I had the privilege of attending the 13th annual Steve Biko Memorial lecture at UCT last night. I was very excited just being invited. I love Steve Biko's brain and am always thrilled when I learn something new about this martyr who died too young. This is gonna be looong and since I didn't really write points and will be writing as I remember stuff, probably jumbled. I hope I don't miss out stuff that I sooo wanted to share ey.
First things first, I had on bright yellow jeans and relaxed hair. I sure stood out like a cupcake. Everybody rocked dreads and afros, even the white people. You know mos how 'black conscious' extremists can be. For some, it seems to mean the dirtier and scruffier you are, the more hardcore you are. Is it perhaps that whole I have more important things in my head than taking a bath? Oh well, that wasn't my reason for going neh?
UCT invites all these respected speakers for this event. Former Presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa T'hiongo, Zakes Mda, Trevor Manuel have all been previous speakers at this lecture. This year, UCT invited Ben Okri. A well highly respected African author and poet to speak. Nkosinathi Biko, Steve Biko's son and CEO of the Biko Foundation was also there in his charming sexy self. (mmmmhhhmmm but I luurrv a man that just exudes an air of confidence like that nehhhh).
Well, cos I was ogling him too much with indecent thoughts, I hardly heard what he had to say. The most important thing I heard him say was that perhaps we should stop always focusing on the way Steve Biko was murdered. He was murdered and it was hidden, by cruel white police yada-yada...yeah, that...but we get nothing from that than just anger ourselves at people that probably don't even know what we're on about. His ideas though are unifying and could help a lot in growing this fledgling apartheid-free nation of ours.
Then came the main speaker, Ben. At first I had no idea what he was saying...he said about 3 jokes and I was like -huhhh?? Maybe they were too revolutionary for my wet-behind-the-ears political self. He then went on asking questions he believes Steve Biko would be asking were he alive. I didn't like this part...cos Steve Biko fought for people to use their own thoughts mos...so Ben is more than welcome to say HIS thoughts as his and not say Steve would say wat-wat...we don't know hawu. Mos even the people that are abusing us now once had such nice-nice ideas for everyone...now, they get huge budgets and don't share. you never know ey.
Anyway, as he went on, speaking of Being African and proudly so, I got more immersed in his words. I was lost in his speech for the entire hour. Lemme break it down. The title was ‘Freedom was just the overture' First, he spoke of what Steve Biko fought for. For black people to be proud of who they are. That freedom to not feel unable to think and say what we want. Of course the biggest stumbling block here was the apartheid rule, which we have overcome. There is no such thing as apartheid in South Africa anymore. We have racists, both black and white...but who doesn't have that? Europe, America...everyone has racists.
Being a writer who enjoys using analogies to explain things, he compared our journey as Africans to a literal journey. So we fought and climbed the first mountain, with blood, sweat and tears. Now, we're at the top. Black people ARE free. That's why I can write whatever I want on this blog. He said 'The value of mountain tops is not to live on them but to see from them'. So now we got to the top of this mountain and we see there's still a loooong way to go before we will be equal in all senses here in South Africa. Seven more mountains lie ahead of us and we all need to work together, tirelessly, to get SA to the point where there are zero inequalities in all spheres.
“The Leaders you have, says something about a people you are”. This got the crowd clapping like MADD. I was embarrassed. Shoo, its not like we have sterling examples up there y'know...so why did everyone clap? Maybe I'm not comrade-minded enough neh? Oh, something else I liked when he spoke of what the Steve Bikos were fighting for neh(freedom and black pride), then he spoke of what the next mountain is. Like, now its a new fight. Are the people we are picking still singing the same song? Is that what is gonna get us over the next mountain? I think that's what the ANC was talking about 'The 2nd Transition' neh? Maybe...it made sense to me though. We are trying to be like other continents who are living harmoniously as individual countries and as continents. This took America 200 years, the Roman empire didn't just rise and be nje, there were wars and plagues and all other manner of things that happened in other countries too. We've had this freedom for 18 years, a child crawls before she walks lovey. We have a looong way to go. We can't rest and play the blame game forever.
There are two ways to fix our problems he went on. Theres the quick fix, like what the Soviet Union did. China and Japan used dictatorship and hard law to ensure their problems were fixed...ummm...I don't think that worked out too nice for them. Then there's the long hard way, like what America did. We must be careful of reconciliation without consideration. He spoke of apartheid as a nightmare. And this democracy as the awakening. What do we do now that the daylight is here? You know, he says other countries NEVER thought apartheid would end.
Apparently, it was like...fate...the moon...a certainty...and guess what, we managed to eradicate it!!!He also reminded us that our freedom didn't come in a physical form yet we all felt it. It all happened in the mind. We rejoiced before the street lamps were brought in. That's interesting neh? We must remember its not so important how 'they'(rest of the world) see us. We are here in Africa and our history is in relation to how WE see it. He said there's 3 Africas. What is here, what we are going towards and what the world says we are. Who cares about that anyway? Its like the woman who found it important to tell me she doesn't read my blog because (insert words into her mouth)..its silly. It doesn't make me wanna write any less. That's how WE must work on OUR Africa.
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